Tug-of-War… The classic game of strength, teamwork, grit and for the inexperienced, rope burn. The game pits two teams against each other for dominance and bragging rights and the satisfaction of dragging the other side through the mud. It has been some time since I anchored the end of the rope but the thoughts bring back some fond memories of the many church picnics and tug-of war competitions I joined as a kid.
The Galatian people in some respects were participants in a sort of Tug-of-War when it came to the truth of the gospel. Remembering that Paul was writing to Christians, imagine if you can two ends or sides of the rope stretched over a line. Faith being on one side and works on the other, each pulling for your attention. When we read through the letter to the Galatians Paul has some strong words for the people, “As we have already said, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse.” (Gal 1:9). Paul is saying to the people that there should be no contest, there is only one gospel anything else is “variant message” an “alien message” (1:6 MSG).
Paul continues throughout his letter to remind and teach the people that it is through faith in Christ that we are saved, not through the works of the law. He digs deep into the roots of their past and reminds them of the covenant (promise) given through Abraham, a promise of one who will come to redeem us and give us everlasting life through him. Take Paul’s concern for the Galatian people and fast forward generations and centuries to our day and age now, these same principles apply. There are many things in life today that pull for our attention, things that distract us from living fully in life by the spirit. Like the people of Galatians, we need continual reminders that Christ is the center of the gospel message. When it comes to winning the game of Tug-of-War I am reminded of Romans 8:1 “If God is for us, who can be against us?” I want God on my team.